The Spark That Ignites the Social Innovator’s Journey

Then, when he had flown a while longer,

Something brightened toward the north,

It caught his eye, they say.

And then he flew right up against it.

He pushed his mind through

And pulled his body after.


These words by Skaay, an oral poet from Haida Gwaii whom many consider British Columbia’s Homer, describe the start of the social innovator’s journey.

Something’s not right. Injustice burns bright. An idea catches your eye. Your imagination takes hold. You push through prevailing wisdom and ‘the way it’s supposed to be.’ With few resources, and no one listening you persist. You answer yes! to the disinterested, the doubters, and disbelievers.

You create a solution to a challenge faced by a friend, family member or your neighbourhood and environment. You sense the links among scattered efforts and bring them together. You combine a number of existing approaches that helps people see their collective potential. You conquer your discomfort and reach out to strange ‘bed fellows.’

You are, in today’s parlance, a social innovator.

The social innovator’s journey begins with a new mindset. A way of thinking that questions the way things are. That has the confidence to make mistakes. That has the patience to avoid busy-ness and wait until wisdom emerges. That makes links and connections no one thought possible. That breaks an existing logjam or spots an emerging one early enough to do something about it. That imagines the future well being of our descendants and their environment.

And then pulls their body through.


We have forgotten our most ancient and tested survival strategy — to act with the future in mind.

     – Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Those Born Before Us,

Those Yet to be Born:

We Respect You.

– Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson

Click to hear Call to the Ancestors by multiple award winning Haida artist and lawyer Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson

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